Seattle’s history under John Schneider is one plagued with early round mistakes. Yet the Seahawks have enjoyed success acquiring day 3 and undrafted free agent talent. Each year, different holes on the roster appear.
Every offseason, Schneider manages to fill out the 53 with Day 3 and UDFA players that go on to start for Seattle. It’s especially important the General Manager manages to do this once more, given the lack of available resources. So, let’s look at three needs that Schneider can satisfy with this method.
In 2018 Poona Ford somehow went undrafted. This was despite the former Texas Longhorn earning a Senior Bowl invitation after a dominant East-West Shrine game performance. Ford saw action in 11 games and registered 3 tackles for loss. In 2019 he figures to be a bigger part of the defensive tackle rotation.
The NFL’s undervaluing of shorter defensive tackles means that talented players will fall. Furthermore, one of the deepest positions in the 2019 NFL draft is DT. In every round, appealing players are projected to be available. Testing will dictate who goes where, but impressive All-Star showers Daylon Mack and Khalen Saunders could be available on Day 3. That’s stupid.
On early downs, Seattle plugs-and-plays their defensive tackles with the starters expected to play both 3-technique (outside shoulder of the guard), 2i (inside shoulder of the guard) and 1-technique (outside shoulder of the center).
Shamar Stephen, whose play declined dramatically, is a free agent who the Seahawks won’t be resigning. The collection of Jarran Reed, Nazair Jones, Quinton Jefferson (more of a big end/3-tech) and Ford needs another body. Post-draft Free Agency is another possible solution, where past examples of players picked up on the low include Ahtyba Rubin and Tony McDaniel.
Following the evolution of Reed as a pass-rusher, the Seahawks’ need for interior pressure from a pure defensive tackle has somewhat declined. When the time for pass-rush comes, they can look to fill it with a more ‘inside-out’-type—think what Malik McDowell was supposed to be.
Seattle’s success getting Day 3 outside cornerback talent is well-documented—DID YOU GUYS KNOW THE SEAHAWKS DRAFTED RICHARD SHERMAN IN THE FIFTH ROUND?! In the 2019 offseason, Neiko Thorpe is a pending free agent. Plus: Thorpe only appeared to be trusted with special teams duties in 2018. Adding competition to the cornerback #2 spot would be smart.
Starting cornerback #1 Shaquill Griffin ended his season disappointingly, even before his ankle injury. His route diagnosis and patience at staying over the top of the receiver vanished. Griffin’s reliance on his athleticism to recover increased and teams exploited this with double moves. As the year progressed, rather than throw at impressive rookie safety-convert Tre Flowers, offensive coordinators went after Griffin.
The value of long corners has been inflated thanks to Seattle’s success with the build. Yet there will still be long players available on day 3. Flowers represents what the Seahawks could do in the future with safety conversions. Meanwhile, the signing of the 6ft 3, 35” inch arm Simeon Thomas to a futures contract is the first step in Seattle adding cheap competition. Thomas ran a 4.47 forty and jumped 39” vertically.
Then there’s nickel cornerback. Schneider’s ability at adding starting cornerback #3s tends to fly under the radar. Justin Coleman will get paid, whether it’s by the Seahawks or elsewhere. If Coleman departs, back Schneider to acquire a solid nickel who can start in the league. Coleman, after all, cost only a 7th round pick. Prior to that, let’s not forget Marcus Burley. Burley, who succeeded the once-dominant Jeremy Lane (6th rounder) was an okay slot added for a 6th.
Spending any meaningful resources on a kicker tends to end badly. Just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Or speak to the Chicago Bears. The Seahawks will, for the third successive offseason, look to solve the position long-term—but cheaply.
Since cutting Stephen Hauschka—whose play dipped after Seattle started experimenting with a different long snapper—the kicker position has been a terrifying aspect to watching Seahawks games.
The last edge-of-your-seat-inducer was Sebastian Janikowski. His numbers were just above his career average, with the Absolute Unit making 81.5% of his field goals while converting 94.1% of his PATs. However, asides from a bizarre, seemingly drunken appearance on the team’s official Instagram story, SeaBass sucked in some big moments and his inconsistency became frustrating. When touchbacks were needed, he was unable to get them. It all ended with him pulling his hamstring in Dallas.
Turns out, signing a 40-year-old kicker who’d had a year out of the game with a back injury wasn’t the best idea—former first-round pick or not. Sure, good kickers can play well into their 40s. That said, the fact that the Seahawks cut Jason Myers in camp stings, given that Myers went on to make the pro bowl with the New York Jets.
This is a position that can be filled easily, though Seattle better find someone who can accurately evaluate it. If not, it will be another nail-biting year of turning away from the action as the kicker runs up to the ball—or waddles in the case of Janikowski. The Seahawks’ signing of former Los Angeles Ram Sam Ficken might work.